Despite its popularity, social media is still a relatively new way of communicating. Among internet users, it’s now the place where they spend most of their time online. And they now have more choice than ever where to spend time as social media sites are growing at an alarming rate and new platforms are popping up all the time.
Social media was defined by renowned marketing expert Andreas Kaplan as “a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content." Or, to put it simply, it’s somewhere you can share things online.
The concept of sharing is key to social media. It’s why Facebook started. It was a way for students at Harvard University, where founder Mark Zukerberg attended, to keep in touch with one another. Word spread about how great it was, and it quickly became the global phenomenon it is today, with over 1bn members across the globe and Zuckerberg now a multi-billionaire.
Other content sharing platforms soon opened up, including Twitter, MySpace, Pintrest, LinkedIn, Google Plus and Bebo. Some are now defunct. Others are reaching popularity levels equal to Facebook. And, despite their differences, they all have one thing in common: sharing of information. Social media allows users to share comments, photos, videos and links to websites they like. Other users can interact and share things of their own and have virtual conversation with people, whether they know them or not.
Businesses soon figured out they should get themselves in on the action too, and started creating Facebook pages and Twitter accounts of their own. Now almost any business worth its salt is using social media to promote its goods and services and engage with its customers. They send updates, run competitions and showcase new websites and products through social media. Bigger companies use Twitter as their customer service departments or set up separate PR divisions.
Today’s social media users are more web-savvy than ever and use Twitter and Facebook to make choices about where to go to eat, go on a day out or which business to use, or avoid, for a service. They ask for recommendations, talk to other users about businesses or simply choose a business because they like its Facebook feed.
More and more users now use Twitter and Facebook to act as mini-news reporters in their area too. They warn motorists where traffic jams are, and if adverse weather conditions have affected something. Events like music festivals and sports competitions can have smartphone pictures of them relayed back instantly too, so other users can feel a part of it.
Of course, social media has its downside. Trolling of users and people breaking the law, sometimes without realising it, are regular occurrences. It’s best to keep things simple, and be social as the name suggests. If you’re not sure whether you should post something, then don’t.
Social media is a wonderful to reach out quickly to lots of people. Some you might know. Others you might not. It doesn’t matter. Social media has its own community and being a part of it is easy. Just join in and enjoy it.Add a comment